SOM-D37677: Post Medieval Thimble

Rights Holder: British Museum
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Unique ID: SOM-D37677

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A silver thimble with waffle-shaped indentations but with pattern of linked cables left plain; plain band at part of the rim and plain disc at central point of dome. The thimble is in excellent condition, apart from one scratch running around it just below the dome. Given the regularity and depth of the indentations, the thimble may have been made on a lathe rather than punched by hand. Unmarked. Length approx 2.9 cm. Silver thimbles were used increasingly by the European nobility and gentry during the 17th Century but surviving examples are rare given that thimbles were much used and, when worn, were likely to have been melted down for their bullion value. In England, silver thimbles are documented as having been donated by women on the Parliamentary side to be melted down during the Civil War. Even later 17th Century English silver thimbles are rare, with few pieces in the national collections in The British Museum and the Museum of London. It has a good parallel of lesser quality, with linked rectangles instead of cables, in The British Museum, registration number 1921, 2-17, 9. The Museum of London holds a thimble of similar design to the latter with inscription, illustrated in Edwin Holmes, Thimbles, London 1976, p. 15 fig. 6c. Another silver thimble in a private collection, bearing an inscription in English, is published in Edwin Holmes, A History of Thimbles, New York 1985, p. 38. All three examples are dated to the 17th Century. An apparently similar thimble is depicted in a painting of a woman sewing, attributed to Johannes van der Aack (1635-1680) in the National Gallery in London (op. cit. fig. 8, p. 17). The thimble probably dates from the late 17th Century. In terms of age and as the object contains a minimum of 10% precious metal it qualifies as Treasure under the stipulations of the Treasure Act 1996 (Dr Dora Thornton, Curator of Renaissance Collections, The British Museum).


The thimble is a disclaimed Treasure find, reference 2006 T137.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Declared Treasure but returned to Finder as Museum unable to acquire

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2006T137


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1650
Date to: Circa AD 1699

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 29 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 8th February 2006

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Dr Naomi Payne
Identified by: Ms Dora Thornton

Other reference numbers

Other reference: Treasure reference 2006 T137
Treasure case number: 2006T137

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Somerset (County)
District: Mendip (District)
To be known as: St Cuthbert Out

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Character undetermined

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SOM
Created: 11 years ago
Updated: 4 years ago

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